Around Pinehurst: Sights and sounds from Thursday

By Jay CoffinJune 12, 2014, 11:00 pm

PINEHURST, N.C. – Visiting Pinehurst makes you feel good about the game. If you already felt good about it, it makes you feel better.

Opening day of the 114th U.S. Open began when the team left its palatial rental abode before 7 a.m. and made the 3-mile drive to the championship. Driving down Highway 5 – the practice range of the No. 2 course on the right – the No. 1 and 5 courses on the immediate left, both already had plenty of players taking swats at a furious pace.

After our arrival, Rickie Fowler was the first person seen on the driving range and he was wearing plus-fours as a tribute to Payne Stewart, the 1999 Open champion who was Fowler’s early golfing hero although sadly the two never met. Classy move.

Rory McIlroy teed off the first hole at 7:40, Phil Mickelson went off the 10th hole at 7:51 and it felt like the official start of this major. Ninety minutes later, when Mickelson hit his approach to 2 feet on the par-4 14th hole for a kick-in birdie, Pinehurst delivered its first big roar.

After the morning wave was complete, it was time to take a stroll through the village, which is four blocks from the Pinehurst clubhouse. The walk straight up Carolina Vista Drive is a beautiful one as it looks directly at the stately Carolina Hotel, which was founded in 1901. If four blocks is too far in the steamy Carolina heat, the Raleigh Rickshaw Co. is planted all over the place with dudes looking to lug you to your destination for only a gratuity. I opted to hoof it. Yay me.

This Thursday afternoon in the village was rather sleepy. Sure, there were plenty of reminders that the Open is in town – a huge tent outside the historic Pine Crest Inn prepping for a block party, an open-air park with a schedule of events for each night – but there wasn’t an overabundance of foot traffic. Thirty or so people were watching television coverage of the event from the bar at the Pine Crest Inn and several locals were shopping as if it were a normal weekday.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"669606","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","height":"225","style":"float: right; border: 2px solid black;","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"300"}}]]

The Old Sport & Gallery in the Harvard Building on Market Square is anything but normal, and is a golf historian’s dream. If you’ve ever wanted a vintage golf book, golf club or piece of memorabilia, owner Tom Stewart likely has it. Seriously, the man has the amateur contestants gift (a white ceramic plate) from the 1967 Crosby Clambake at Pebble Beach.

“I like my chances with 50,000 golf fans in town,” Stewart said on this day when asked if business is booming with the Open in town.

Back over to the reason for the visit, the afternoon wave was finishing. Martin Kaymer ended the day on top of the studly leaderboard, turning in an impressive 5-under performance to best the field by three.

Sure, what happened on the course was more important than what happened surrounding the course. Still, this day as a whole was a reminder of why this town and this game truly are special.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”